Friday, March 15, 2013
Bob Lutz, Savior of the World
To quote Ronald Reagan but applying it to Bob Lutz, "There you go again." If you listen to or read what he writes Bob Lutz must be one hell of a guy. He does have an impressive resume - GM Europe, BMW, Ford, Chrysler, and finally GM USA. The way Lutz talks he must have saved every single one of those companies. Yet the two that were on the ropes survived without him.
His latest gig, besides going around the country telling everyone how great he is, is a blogger for Forbes.com (http://www.forbes.com/sites/boblutz/). And in his most recent blog he attacks Ed Whitacre, the government appointed overseer of GM after their bailout.
Now I have no insight into how important Mr. Whitacre was to GM and I have not read his book, "American Turnaround: Reinventing AT&T and GM and the Way We Do Business in the USA" but at least he has actually headed up some corporations. History will have to judge whether he was a successful businessman.
Reading Lutz's blog he states that Whitacre had little to nothing to do with the resurrection of GM. In fact Lutz says it was really Rick Waggoner, Fritz Henderson, and he who did the trick. How? They are responsible for all the great vehicles GM unveiled after they were let go.
Well I'm sorry to disagree with Big Bob but he is just full of shit. Lutz is the kind of guy that if you don't agree with him he'll cut you down with words until you feel about worthless. Lutz is the guy who defended the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky, another one of GM's world beaters that wasn't. To be sure Lutz had input into some successful vehicles but all in all his record isn't as great as his ego.
GM has made some great cars. Many of its current crop are some of the best they have ever sold. I don't know how much the former leaders had to do with any of them but I do know that designing and building a car in a large corporation is not the product of one man, or even a handful, but of many.
Here's one quote from Wikipedia that I think shows Lutz's true self, "Lutz said that one reason for his decision (to retire) was the increasing regulatory climate in Washington that would force GM to produce what Federal regulators wanted, rather than what customers wanted." Yet Lutz claims it was his products that saved the company! And if the new Corvette is what regulators wanted I say hurrah for the regulators.
General Douglas MacArthur famously said, "old soldiers don't die; they just fade away." I think Lutz prefers Dylan Thomas' "Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light ..." I just wish he'd rave some truth. But then maybe he's just pissed off because he really wasn't that important.